The fourteenth-century Black Death was one of the most important and devastating epidemics in human history. It caused or accelerated important demographic, economic, political, and social changes throughout the Old World and has therefore been the subject of scholarly research in a variety of fields, including history, anthropology, demography, and molecular biology. In this paper, we examine the Black Death (specifically, the first and second outbreaks of fourteenth-century plague, c. 1347–1351 and 1361–1362) from bioarchaeological and historical perspectives, focusing on attempts to reconstruct mortality patterns and addressing the questions: Who died in England during the Black Death? How did they die, where and when? We evaluate how historical and bioarchaeological sources are uniquely informative about these questions and highlight the limitations that are associated with each type of data. The combination of the two bodies of evidence, when possible, can provide insights that are not possible when each is analyzed in isolation.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Published in Fragments, Volume 6, 2017.
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DeWitte, S., & Kowaleski, M. (2017). Black Death Bodies. Fragments, 6. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.9772151.0006.001